Tag Archives: SAAirforce

Chief of The SAAF Lieutenant General Fabian Msimang Retreat Parade

A rather sad day to be at Air force Base Swartkop on the afternoon of the last day of September 2020,cuddled around a number of cumulonimbus clouds kept their distance as a final retreat parade could take place with a magnificent background as the Chief of the South African Air Force retired.  


Lieutenant General Fabian “BlackHawk” Zimpande (Zakes) Msimang,a former operational helicopter pilots on various types of SAAF Helicopters he flew during his time,including MI8,MI25,Alouette III and Oryx Helicopters just to name a few.

On 28 September 2012,Msimang was appointed the new Chief of the South African Airforce as Lieutenant-General Carlo Gagiano retired from the SAAF.


As we all know,Covid-19 has all hit us all hard,this cancelling a number of events such as airshows in the aviation industry and most important celebrating the SAAFs centenary,with the cancellation of Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD2020),we could not have a 100 year celebration airshow taking into consideration of being the world’s second oldest air force after the Royal Airforce (RAF).And yes the Chief and the Deputy Chief Major General Innocent Buthelezi mentioned we are the second oldest air force in the world!

By 5pm a number of SAAF aircraft including helicopters and fixed wing assets took to the skies around the Pretoria area.Before the outgoing Chief opened the flypasts flying the Alouette III part of the South African Air force Museum.

The next elements of the flypast columns included the De Havilland Vampire T55,flown by Rama “Dynamite”Iyer and Vladimir “Spoetnik” Schultz.The Museums Aerospatiale Puma SA330 and Alouette II closely followed behind.

SAAF Museum De Havilland Vampire T55
SAAF Museum De Havilland Vampire T55
SAAF Museum Aerospatiale Puma & Alouette II

The big chopper formation was soon over Snake Valley led by a 16 Squadron Rooivalk Attack Helicopter,flanked by various helicopters from squadrons across South Africa,including two Lynx Mk 64 Helicopters all the way from AFB Ysterplaat in Cape Town,A number of Agusta A109LUHs and Oryx Helicopters also formed part of the formation.
The former school master of the sky the Harvard formation including Two Museum Harvards and two Harvard Club aircraft were next over the podium.

Mass Helicopter Formation
Rooivalk,Lynx MK 64,Oryx & Agusta A109LUH
Mass Helicopter Formation
SAAF Museum & Harvard Club (Harvard Formation)
SAAF Museum & Harvard Club (Harvard Formation)

The Lycoming formation were next with a Cessna C185,a Kudu and a Bosbok making up for the taildragger aircraft in the museum fleet.41 Squadron put on a tight formation with a leading Pilatus PC12,Two KingAirs and five Cessna 208A Caravans.

SAAF Museum Cessna C185,Kudu & Bosbok
41 Squadron Pilatus PC12
41 Squadron Formation
41 Squadron Formation

Pelican Formation was next with a 35 Squadron C47TP Turbo Dakota,while a 44 Squadron Casa 212 kept tightly behind the Daks 6 o’clock position.Open the gates its 28 Squadron with Two C130BZ Hercules Transport aircraft in formation with four Central Flying School Pilatus PC-7 MKII ab initio trainers.

35 Squadron C47TP & 44 Squadron Casa 212
35 Squadron C47TP
C130BZs & Pilatus PC7MKIIs
C130BZs & Pilatus PC7MKIIs

The last flypast was the combat formation consisting of two 2 Squadron JAS39 Gripens and four Hawks from 85 Combat Flying School.The formation was led by Major Geoffrey “Spartan” Cooper.
As the parade continued with a change of command tradition,a flag setting.

Gripen & Hawk Formation
Gripen & Hawk Formation

The South African Air Force band entertained the VIP Guests and members of the SAAF and Media. The surprise flypast of a Gripen from, behind the seated guests pitched up into the dark sky while releasing flares.Surely presented the chief with a final loud and spectacular goodbye.

Gripen Flare drop

Attending the after function,where we were kindly invited by the outgoing chief,it came time to give one final speech with tears in his eyes “he mentioned to be in an Air Force that Inspires Confidence we need to be confident in ourselves.Since I started here,I have always believed that you,each of you,are more capable.I believed and still do that you have the capacity to make this organisation into something bigger than what it was.”

We were treated to a delicious dinner and cold beverages before leaving the base,well done to all involved in making the final event for the chief a success.


We would like to wish the former chief of the South African Air force all the best for his future and a restful retirement,we’d like to take the time to thank you for making the time for us and giving us the opportunities that some didn’t have.
We thank you sir.

Video Below

Click on photo below to enlarge

Cuban South African Airforce Graduates

by Lt Gen F.Z. Msimang, Chief of the South African Air Force

Life is indeed cyclical. Many years ago, in the mid-80’s a young soldier by the name Zakes Khulu along with his comrades found themselves in a foreign country pursuing aviation studies. They learned all they could in that country, immersing themselves in its culture, its ways of life. They would eventually return home with their newly acquired skills, eager to start collaborating in establishing a new democracy. Looking back at their journey in many ways mirrors your own. You too were deployed to a foreign country to learn, to grow, to improve and be immersed in a culture engendered with liberation so that when you returned, which you have now done, you will continue the democracy building project. That Zakes Khulu with some of those surviving comrades, stand before you now beaming with pride for your extraordinary achievements, watching you ride the waves of endless possibilities. We are extremely proud of you all.

We are here, today, under strict Covid-19 regulations, which we must observe and respect accordingly, to welcome all of you on parade and your proud families, loved ones and friends to this auspicious and memorable occasion. We are here to honour a group of military aviators who trained in the Republic of Cuba; we welcome them home to their esteemed SAAF flying community. 

Graduates, you have touched my heart. You have carried yourselves with exceptional grace and honour. You kept your promise to me. You have brought home commendable results but know this road still unfolds before your feet. Baba Mandela – the Father of our Nation – once said: “After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.”

This parade marks one of the many summits you will have to reach in your long careers in the SANDF.

But as your achievements belong to you they belong also to your unwavering support structures. It was a community project. This journey would have been impossible without the commitment and dedication of your instructors, your mentors and of cause – the support of your proud parents, family members and loved ones. A special word of thank you to all the SAAF members who helped you work through obstacles, while you tenaciously invited the universe to mold you into fine soldiers. 

Our unbreakable bonds between the Cubas and our government can be traced to its support of African liberation movements, following the overthrow of the Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista in 1959 by “The Movement,” formed by late longtime Cuban leader Fidel Castro. Cuba supported the anti-apartheid struggle in this country opposing racial segregation when it was not fashionable to do so. It criticised the international community for blatantly ignoring South Africa’s human rights’ violations – the very rights that many are taking for granted in this country today. 

When the democratic South African National Defence Force entered into bilateral agreements with The Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces to create study opportunities for our soldiers,  the South African Air Force (SAAF)  embraced this opportunity with open arms.

We identified disciplined young men and women to undergo training in Cuba, where they would be immersed in a different culture, social structure, and political landscape. In 2014, we sent twenty-seven candidates to undergo various training specialties in aviation engineering, air traffic control and pilot training fields. They stand before us now: a result of a bond based on shared revolutionary principles. 

I kept an eagle eye on your developments in Cuba. I was pleased to learn that you turned every challenge into an opportunity for growth. Your results speak for themselves. You received golden awards for both academia and sports. You even experienced the devastating hurricane Irma and used that difficult time to learn major survival skills. Your stay in Cuba also coincided with the mourning of the passing of one the world’s finest revolutionaries Fidel Castro, his message of resistance to oppression resounding strong. Cuba provided you with immense lessons in patriotism, survival and determination. May these lessons nourish you.

Additional  SAAF students commenced with their aviation training in Cuba in 2018 and 2019. We are expecting more graduates in 2021, 2022 amd 2026. Extending the SAAF training scope to various foreign countries will ultimately bring about a generation of differently trained individuals who if nurtured and allowed to plough back their knowledge, will enhance our outlook as part of the global community.

And as we reach our close, I must stress that the knowledge you have acquired is crucial in meeting our Constitutional mandate and requirements. Our constitution states that “the Defence Force must be structured and managed as a disciplined military force”. As a soldier, for me, the success of the SAAF will be underpinned by an enforcement of discipline and the concentration on functional, developmental and physical training. May we be soldiers who live in integrity: for ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism. You have answered our Nation’sd call – Which is Service, and Country. May you grow to be airmen with integrity,…… for ours is to serve with discipline, dignity, professionalism and patriotism. 

As proud and devoted members of the SANDF, we must have  an eagle’s eye view on any challenge and hover above  it menacingly, in the knowledge that our citizenry expects nothing less  than a deep sense of security from us.

The Chief of the SAAF concluded his speech below:

TO THE MEMBERS ON PARADE, I WISH YOU ALL SUCCESS IN YOUR FUTURE ENDEAVOURS. YOU ARE OUR FUTURE LEADERS.  GO OUT THERE AND SERVE THE NATION.   THE AIR FORCE COMMAND COUNCIL WILL CERTAINLY BE FOLLOWING YOUR CAREERS WITH INTEREST – CONTINUE WITH THE HARD WORK AND DISCIPLINE YOU HAVE DEMONSTRATED THUS FAR.

MAY YOU BE ABUNDANTLY BLESSED. 

I THANK YOU.

Aero L39s of the Cuban Airforce were used as ab-intio trainers for South African Air Force pupil pilots!

Another Successful rescue for 15 Squadron

Jonathan Kellerman, NSRI Durban station commander, said:

At 11h57, Wednesday, 06th May, NSRI Durban duty crew and Netcare 911 ambulance services were placed on alert for a pending mission to patient evacuate an ill sailor suffering a medical condition (not Covid-19 related) off a bulk carrier motor vessel approaching Durban.8

At 12h45 an SA Air Force (SAAF) 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter, a ShipsMed doctor, Netcare 911 rescue paramedics and NSRI Durban rescue swimmers were activated and preparations, including Port Health Authority authorisations, were set in motion.

The SAAF 15 Squadron Oryx helicopter, carrying 2 SAAF pilots, a SAAF flight engineer, 2 Netcare 911 rescue paramedics, a ShipsMed doctor and 2 NSRI rescue swimmers rendezvoused with the ship 7 nautical miles off-shore of Park Rynie, KZN South Coast.

A rescue swimmer, the doctor and a rescue paramedic were winch hoisted from the helicopter onto the ship and the doctor and the rescue paramedic took over medical care of the patient, a 43 year old Filipino sailor, from the ships medical crew.

A second rescue paramedic was winch hoisted onto the ship with a Stokes basket stretcher and the patient, in a serious but stable condition, was secured into the stretcher and winch hoisted with one of the rescue paramedics into the helicopter.

The remaining rescue crew were winch hoisted into the helicopter and in the care of the doctor and the 2 rescue paramedics, who continued with medical treatment to the patient in the helicopter, the patient was airlifted directly to a Durban hospital and he has been taken into the care of hospital staff.

All Covid-19 precautions and protocols were observed during the operation.

NSRI Emergency Operations Centre, Telkom Maritime Radio Services, WC Government Health EMS, Netcare 911 ambulance services, ShipsMed, Transnet National Ports Authority and Port Health Authorities assisted Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre in communications, coordination and logistics during the operation.

The operation completed at 17h20.

SAAF Casa 212s keeping busy during SA Covid-19 lockdown!

The South African Airforce as well as the South African National Defence Force, South African Police Service and other Private Security firms have been deployed to carry out a task of directing citizens of South Africa to stay at home during the countries lockdown and a further two week extended lockdown to clamp down on the spread of COVID-19 Coronavirus with a number of people testing positive for the disease and a major loss of human life across the world.

44 Squadron Casa 212

44 Squadron based at Airforce Base Waterkloof, have been keeping the skies above South Africa with the transportation of essential goods including medical equipment.

Parts of the country the light transport aircraft has been tasked to help transport these goods, have been Kwa-Zulu Natal, The Eastern Cape, The Western Cape and other Provinces dealing with high risk area’s with COVid-19 patients.

Airforce Station Port Elizabeth
Picture by Captain Mark Kelbrick
Picture by Captain Mark Kelbrick
King Shaka International Airport Durban
Picture by SANDF
Airforce Base Ysterplaat, Cape Town
SAAF Crew and Personnel

44 Squadron SAAF is a squadron of the South African Air Force. It is currently a light transport squadron. First formed: 12 March 1944. The Squadron has a total of 3 Casa 212s, Two 200s and One 300 as part of their light transport assets.

SAAF Casa 212 & Airforce of Zimbabwe Casa 212
Eswatini Airshow 2019
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